Closing Conference of the EU Project “Disability: A Matter of Perception” Persons with disabilities to be involved in creating policies and decision making in all spheres of life
Better and more quality information is needed for persons with disabilities, reducing prejudices against them and implementing positive campaigns to promote equality of citizens in society. It is necessary to improve the resources in education, providing training and better conditions for the staff that works with children with disabilities in order to provide quality education.
Additionally, architectural barriers need to be removed for free movement of persons with disability. These are some of the messages said by Branimir Jovanovski from the National Council of Disability Organizations during the event organized for the national observance of 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
The Closing Conference of the Project “Disability: A Matter of Perception” implemented by Media Diversity Institute in London, the Macedonian Institute for Media and the National Council of Disability Organizations, supported by the European Union, was held during this event. Through many different project activities, which were focused on advancing the cooperation mechanisms between media and civil society organization that work with persons with disabilities, 14 media were involved and around forty civil society organizations, that represent persons with disabilities, as participants in trainings or as implementers of small grants.
Mike Jempson from the Media Diversity Institute in London said that the Manual “Disability: Out in the Open” produced within the project, in which he is one of the authors, should demonstrate that persons with disabilities are “handicapped” only because other persons and institutions are not ready to meet them.
Vlado Krstovski from the National Council of Disability Organizations recommended further improvement of the cooperation between media and disabled persons’ organizations, and also the strategic approach in building coalitions that will contribute to better results in terms of visibility of persons with disabilities in media, and thus, acting on general public awareness.
Media coverage of persons with disabilities should be improved in the Macedonian and Albanian media. Greater journalistic engagement is needed in identifying topics related to persons with disabilities, their consistent coverage until instigating reactions from institutions and resolving problems, and journalistic content should promote normalization of discourse regarding persons with disabilities, said Vesna Nikodinoska from Macedonian Institute for Media.
The Ambassador Zbogar said that “Combating discrimination is not only about changing laws, but also about adopting measures to change attitudes and behaviour that stigmatize and marginalize persons with disabilities”. Relating to the project, he emphasized that expects results in strengthening persons with disabilities. “I expect to see more persons with disabilities involved in creating policies and decision-making in all aspects of life. I expect to see that the country approaching the EU motto “United in Diversity”.
Within the event held in the Government, the Prime Minister Zoran Zaev, the Minister of Labour and Social Policy Mila Carovska, the Minister of Health Venko Filipce, the Minister of Education and Science, Arber Ademi, the Head of the European Union Delegation, Samuel Zbogar, as well as the Coordinatior of the National Coordinative Body Spase Dodevski also spoke during the event held in the Government.
The Minister Carovska emphasized that the establishment of a coordinative body and a national coordinator, that will unite all relevant institutions, represents a significant step forward in improving the situation and the rights of persons with disability. She noted that the development of services for persons with disability, such as personal assistants and assistance at home remain an important task for the Ministry and the institutions. Inclusion is a process that is constantly updated and enhanced, Minister Ademi added, according to whom the amendments to the Law on Primary Education have contributed to the improvement of the possibilities and situation of pupils with disability. The special schools will be transformed in regular ones, and the staff who have worked so far will provide expert assistant and support to the schools.